Boutique Series Roland TR-08 Rhythm Composer

The vintage TR-808 is back in action with the Boutique Series from Roland. Classic sounds from this sought after drum machine that has been proven in use over decades on at least a half dozen music genres by scores of performers.


Vintage Sound Modern Box

Over the years, many artists, including high profile, professional acts have spent a lot of time searching music shops and spending a fortune to acquire the TR-808 to get the classic sound on their musical projects.  When doing so they took the risk on used equipment that was up to 20 plus years old which led to many problems with vintage gear breaking, taking the old TR 808s on the road for touring and gigs was also a problem as you don’t want to damage the older piece of equipment.

Roland has solved this problem with the Boutique Series TR-808 by using a modern, durable case that will last for years to come at an affordable cost.   So you no longer have to dream of having the gear that countless artists have used with your beat making and music projects.

Hands-On Control

The TR-08 gives you hands on control of all of the significant parameters, effects, steps sequencing to let you make beats quickly and even improvise in a live performance situation.   For example, you quick have control over volume on all drum tracks, you have the same knob encoder control over the tone of the bass drum, snare drum and cymbal.  There are control knobs for low tom mid tom and high tom.  There is a “snappy” control knob the snare drum for that “pop” sound, as well as a decay encoders for the bass drum, cymbal and open hi hat.


Each of the tom drums can switch between hi low, and mid conga sounds via a toggle switch.  The rim shot can switch to a claves sound and the hand clap can switch to a maracas sound.    Tempo can be quickly changed via a tap tempo button.  I/F variation is controlled with a toggle switch.  There are up to four intro / drum fill banks that can be quickly accessed as well as an accenting knob and more at your finger tips in a way that deosn’t leave you digging through LCD screen menus, it really works like the simplified 80s electronic style which can be a breath of fresh air in this world of “too many menus” trying to include every single feature on one machine.



Selectable Trigger Out

With the TR-08 you can select a drum track to be routed to a trigger out using a 1/4 inch output that can control other equipment.  While this is a simple approach it can be powerful to double up snare or kick sounds etc…  You could also change the


 Boutique Series Compatibility 

Roland has re created other of their vintage equipment that  is compatible with Roland’s boutique series accessories.


USB Based Separate Outputs

If you connect the Roland TR-08 to your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software via the USB connector, it can send separate outputs for every individual drum track.  For instance if you have ableton live as your preferred DAW you can route the drums to as many different or the same tracks such as the snare drum on one track and everything else on another track and process the sounds individually or in groups. How much processing you can do is only limited by the CPU power and RAM on the computer.  This of course works in MAC or Windows based systems.

The Sequencer

The sequencer for the TR-08 works much like classic TR-808 with the same ease of use with the step sequence drum programming interface using buttons for all the sixteen steps.  In addition to the sixteen step sequencer there is a sixteen step sub sequencer which goes a long way to helping you create more complex patterns and roll type routines when your beat calls for it.  If you don’t like step sequencing the TR-08 can also record your notes or “hits” by simple taping them in as the sequence records and the notes are automatically quantized to their proper steps.



Battery and USB Power

One thing the original TR-808 never had that the TR-08 has now is the ability to user just four AA  batteries to power the machine and use it anywhere in a portable style as opposed to the past where you were stuck in the studio if you wanted to make a beat.  You can also power the TR-08 with a USB port that can be connected to a AC outlet or powered USB HUB, powered computer USB connector as well, this gives you lots of flexiblity in terms of where and when you can make your music, the power could be out and you could be sitting bored with candles lit up and decide to use that time to make some unique music.  There is also and on board speaker so you don’t have to worry about headphones if you forgot them.


TR 808 Sound

Even if you don’t know much about electronic dance music (EDM) or hip hop, and all you listened to was pop over the years you’ve likely heard this classic sounds of the TR-808.  The TR-08 reproduces them in a true to form manner that more or less gives you the same thing, many users on the internet have reported the sounds are exactly the same.

Sound List:

  • BASS DRUM Sound/track (BD)
  • SNARE DRUM Sound/track (SD)
  • LOW CONGA, LT: LOW TOM Sound/track (LC)
  • MID CONGA, MT: MID TOM Sound/track (MC)
  • HI CONGA, HT: HI TOM Sound/track (HC)
  • CLAVES, RS: RIM SHOT Sound/track (CL)
  • MARACAS, CP: HAND CLAP Sound/track (MA)
  • COW BELL Sound/track (CB)
  • CYMBAL Sound/track (CY)
  • OPEN HI HAT Sound/track (OH)
  • CLOSED HI HAT Sound/track (CH)

These sounds on the TR- 808 have been used by more professional artists in a more varied selection of genres than possibly any other drum machine ever made.  For instance here is a list of just some of the artists i could find that used the TR- 808 on wikipedia:

  • Afrika Bambaataa “Planet Rock”
  • Run-DMC
  • LL Cool J
  • Public Enemy
  • Beastie Boys
  • Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”
  • Talking Heads
  • 808 State (lierally named after the 808)
  • Damon Albarn
  • Diplo
  • Fatboy Slim
  • David Guetta
  • New Order
  • Outkast
  • Kelis
  • TI
  • Lil Wayne
  • Britney Spears
  • Beyoncé
  • R Kelly
  • Rick Rubin (producer, made bass lines out of the kick drum sound)

There is even a movie about the TR 808



Is The TR-08 For Me?

The TR-08 is well suited for the beat maker/producer who wants the classic sound of the TR-808 obviously, but with the advent of computer based production the TR-08 has more possibilities than exited in the TR-808 days of the 1980s since you can process the sounds with more options.  There is still room to experiment  with the Tr-08 in modern music while you can use the classic 808 sound to evoke memories in your listeners as well when it is well suited to do so.

The price is reasonable as well at $350 dollars so it can be a good first drum machine for some or an addition to the arsenal for others who have more experience.  Another advantage of the TR-08 is that it is fairly easy to use since it is not complicated with a bunch of menus and features that may never be used.